Ageless Galloway still a wonder

He flies past defenses with ease at age 36. He remains as productive as he was at age 26. Yes Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Joey Galloway has never been to a Pro Bowl. Fortunately, most players are wise enough to measure the speedster's value in other ways.

Sammy Davis stared back in disbelief after he was told Buccaneers wide receiver Joey Galloway had never been to a Pro Bowl.

"I thought he had? For real? That's really surprising," Davis said. "I thought he had been a few times. To know that he hasn't, that's surprising. I did not know that."

The fourth-year cornerback played against Galloway in 2004 when the Buccaneers traveled to San Diego. He's been Galloway's teammate since signing with the Buccaneers in the offseason.

He said it's one thing to face Galloway on the field. It's quite another to see the 36-year old up close.

"I was like, ‘Man, this guy must have some kind of secret or something,'" Davis said. "There's no way you can be 35 and still be that fast."

"Secret" may be a great way to describe Galloway's under-the-radar success. Despite closing in on his third straight 1,000-yard season, Galloway — who turned 36 last month — is almost never uttered among the top receivers in the NFL.

He isn't flashy like Randy Moss. He isn't flamboyant like Terrell Owens. He doesn't have a catchy nickname like Chad Johnson (Ocho Cinco).

Even his touchdown celebrations are understated. He curls up his right sleeve and flexes his bicep for the crowd. Nothing more.

And he rarely speaks to the media. He's not a fixture in the locker room during the week.

But his importance in Tampa Bay can't be overstated.

"We kind of compare him to Barry Bonds," tight end Alex Smith said. "He's a home run. Any given point in the game. It's special that he can do something like that."

Especially at an age when most wide receivers considered downfield threats break down physically.

Galloway used to have that reputation. He blew out his knee in Dallas in 2000. He battled hamstring problems as late as 2004, when he missed most of his first six games with the Buccaneers.

But since then? He hasn't missed a game.

Credit Galloway's physical regimen. He remains true to a workout he used at Ohio State under trainer Dave Kennedy, who is now at the University of Nebraska. They've tweaked it over the years, but it remains virtually the same.

The workout is a combination of running, which includes parachute and cutting drills, and weight work like snatches and hang cleans that emphasize strengthening his hips. Galloway doesn't take much time off, either. Maybe a week or two after the season, but that's all.

"He's an explosive player, so everything in his workout regimen is designed to build that explosiveness," Bucs strength and conditioning coach Mike Morris said earlier this season to the Tampa Tribune.

Credit the Buccaneers for understanding Galloway's body and giving it time to recover each week. After the 2004 season the Buccaneers adopted a system in training camp that gave Galloway time off during camp. He usually only practiced once a day.

That led to his best season ever, an 83-catch, 1,287-yard, 10 touchdown effort that led to being named a Pro Bowl alternate for the second time.

"There was no reason why he shouldn't have been on that list," Smith said.

Galloway will tell you the days off were Gruden's idea, and it worked so well for Galloway that the team has applied it to other veterans that have suffered similar injury problems.

The Bucs give Galloway further rest during the season. He takes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off before doing full workouts on Thursday and Friday to prepare for the game.

Gruden admits that sometimes he grinds his teeth over giving one player that much time off each week. But he can't argue with the results.

"It just makes sense," Gruden said. "The idea is to have him at full speed on Sunday."

And credit genetics. Because Galloway's gazelle-like, effortless speed at a time when most receivers are calling it quits defies logic.

"You can't name too many guys like him," Smith said. "Jerry Rice played for a very long time, but I don't think he was ever the deep threat Joey is."

Rice was recognized more as a possession receiver who turned short passes into longer gains. Galloway has that capability, as he proved when he took Luke McCown's 10-yard slant for a 42-yard gain last week. But his effectiveness is in the long, defense-stretching bombs that draw wide stares from fans and opposing coaches alike.

That includes his 60-yard reception from McCown last week.

Houston head coach Gary Kubiak found that out when he hired Kyle Shanahan away from the Buccaneers to be his quarterbacks coach before the 2006 season.

"It seemed every time we (Kyle and I) were talking about a route or a concept, he was showing me an example with a cut up of Joey doing it," Kubiak said. "So I became a fan of his very, very quick. I think he's phenomenal, the year he's having, the way he's playing right now."

Kubiak said he believed Galloway shares a similar trait with two players he coached in Denver, Shannon Sharpe and Rod Smith.

"They all seem to have that same trait in that they all take care of themselves and are able to do it at a high level for a long, long time," Kubiak said.

And yet, no Pro Bowls for Galloway. Davis said the Pro Bowl is never a true measure of a player's ability or importance. He called it a "high school popularity contest."

That may be true. But one would think that Galloway would have been to Hawaii at least once, right? I mean, even the least popular kid in high school found the spotlight once.

It's not as if Galloway is anonymous. He's just wired differently, as Gruden said last week.

"Every year since he's put up great numbers," Smith said. "Granted there are some great receivers in this league. But I don't think he's gotten enough publicity as some of the other guys because he's not as boisterous and he flies under the radar."

Flies? That sounds about right.

GALLOWAY BY THE NUMBERS

Charting Joey Galloway's numbers this season, with his rankings in the NFL through 12 games:

Receptions: 49. Rank: 37

Yards: 891. Rank: 15

Scoring, non-kickers: 36. Rank: t30

Yards per catch: 18.2. Rank: t10

Yards per game: 74.2. Rank: 16

Long reception: 69 yards. Rank: t14

Touchdowns: 6. Rank: t14

Receptions of 20-plus yards: 12. Rank: t11

Receptions of 40-plus yards: 8. Rank: 1

Receptions for a first down: 31. Rank: t36

Listen to Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins every Tuesday with former Buccaneers linebacker Scot Brantley on WHBO 1470 ESPN Radio in Tampa and Clearwater from 3-6 p.m. If you miss the show, check out Bucsblitz.com's exclusive team media center for Postins' archived appearances.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.


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